Virgin London Marathon 2012 – Race Report #1 – The Build Up

Bear with me, I need to write this report as much for myself as for anyone else. It was such a marvellous, crazy, hot, rainy, noisy, busy day, it all seems a bit of a blur now!

Okay. We reached London on Saturday lunchtime, grabbed some sandwiches and found the hotel. They let us check into the room early which was great, and my son was delighted with the view from the window.

Trains!

Husband, daughter and son decided they were going to head to the Science Museum for the afternoon, whilst I set off to have a walk, stretch my legs and have a ‘recce’ of the finish area. So many inspirational books have advised seeing the finish line beforehand so you can really see yourself in your mind’s eye crossing it. I was a little worried I’d walked for too long, but was great to see the last part of the route, past Big Ben, along Birdcage walk, past Buckingham palace and into the Mall. They were still assembling the finish area but I saw enough to give me little butterflies in my stomach.

We met back at the hotel, and headed off for some dinner at a nearby restaurant I’d booked. Guess what – it was an Italian restaurant so I could have pasta! I abstemiously ignored my husband’s lovely looking cold Italian beer and gorgeous smelling glass of Montepulciano (although I couldn’t resist a little taste!) then back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep.

Ha ha to that – slept very badly because I woke every couple of hours to check I’d set the alarm on my iPod. Was actually relieved when  it was time to get up and just get started. Tiptoed out so as not to wake the others, had a disappointing hotel breakfast so tiptoed back upstairs to make a pot of instant porridge and eat a banana. Got myself all ready, double and triple checked that I had everything, kissed everyone goodbye and slunk out to catch the coach at 7.15am.

The coach journey was fine, although seeing the coach driver studying a large map as we boarded the coach was a worry, as was the U-turn he had to make as he’d missed the turning. Fortunately we arrived in plenty of time and I bounded off the coach, following the crowds towards the ‘blimps’ showing where the start areas were. Blue start seemed fairly empty and quite peaceful in the sunshine.  Found a spot to sit in the sun on my bin bag, sipping a cup of tea and eating a flapjack and listening to the music they were playing (London Calling by The Clash – very appropriate!)

Its oh so quiet, ssh shh!

Managed to queue 3 times for the loo, with the queues getting longer each time. Saw the start of the Women’s Elite race on the big screens, then we were being told to put out kit bags onto the baggage trucks and make our way to the start ‘pens’.  I was in pen 9, so right at the back. We all huddled together with some nervous chatter going on, I texted my husband to let him know we were nearly ready, to which he replied they’d just had a delicious, and enormous breakfast and were getting  ready to head out for their long day. We never heard the starting ‘horn’, but slowly started shuffling forward towards the Start line. I’d been warned it can take 30 – 40 minutes to cross the line so wasn’t getting too excited yet. I managed to remove my fleece jumper and toss it to the side without hitting anyone this time. We shuffled and shuffled, and around 20 minutes later the Start line was in sight.

Read on for Part 2 – the actual race!

Did it! I am a Marathoner!

Finished!

So I did it! I survived! 26.2 Miles – done! I have done the London Marathon, I have the medal and am (still) wearing the T-shirt. Truth be told, I only took my medal off because I realised I’d got sunburn on the back of my neck and the ribbon was rubbing it.

It took me 6:07, I took my little walk breaks every mile as planned, and I ran the last couple of miles, passing so many walkers. My husband and kids managed to dash around London and see me SIX TIMES! (I think they deserved a medal as well.) The noise and support from the crowds was great, although at times I did find it a little over whelming. Well, I run on my own, usually on little country lanes with just a few cars, tractors and the wildlife to keep me company.

I need to write a proper race report, if only to get it all straight in my head. I also have various pictures my husband took along the way.

But the main thing is phew and hooray! Did it!

5 days to go!

Okay – so only 5 days to go (apparently!)

My last short run today. Felt strange – and very short!

Getting very organised now. I have bought my official ‘manky fleece’. This is to be worn before the start, so that I can keep warm right up until kick off. (What do you mean, marathons don’t have a kick off?) Then it is cast aside with everyone else’s ‘manky fleeces’, bin bags, old gloves etc. These are collected up and recycled, so its not just throwing them away. Unfortunately, I’m quite fond of the one I found in the PDSA shop today – might be a wrench to leave it behind.

Second organised thing done today – ironed my name onto my Dorothy House charity vest. Didn’t burn or melt it (phew!) and its looking very smart. It has my real name, and “B&T” (for those that know me by that name).

Off to London tomorrow, to the ‘Expo’. I have to go and collect my running number in person, so a mad dash up & back between school drop off and home comings has been organised. I’m hoping to meet some of the people I’ve been sharing this madness with online, but its such a huge place, with so many people going to be there, I know we’ll be lucky if we do manage to meet up. But hey – you never know!

Its the Final Countdown!

So its officially less than a week to go.
I can now say “When I run the London Marathon this week“.
It really is too late to worry about it now – I just have to get my self organised (adds that to giant To Do list).

Short run today, hopefully with son as bicycling attendant. Collect my number on Wednesday. Last Physio session on Thursday to get taped up again (if she thinks its needed). Maybe another little run on Thursday. Friday for last minute dithering, then OFF on Saturday!

Must try and iron my name onto my charity vest today. Just in case I melt my top, the theory is I would still have time to get hold of another one.

Obsessing about the weather forecast for Sunday, and what the appropriate amount of clothing is. Shorts or capris? Vest, or vest with top underneath, or vest with top over the top that can be removed if it warms up? Bin bag if its raining, or running gilet?

Oh such angst!

"Only 9 days to go!"

So  my Sponsorship page tells me its ‘only 9 days to go!’ (Note the exclamation mark – they added that, not me. If there was a piece of punctuation that gave the impression of a strangled cry of anguish, then that’s what I would have added.)

Actually, I am feeling slightly calmer now. The head-in-the-sand denial has passed, but its so close now I don’t have time to panic, just to write lots of lists. What I need to take to the Expo. What I need on the day. What I need to put into the bag that goes onto the baggage truck at the start, and meets me at the finish. (I did wonder if I could squeeze into the bag, but don’t think it will be big enough. Curses!)

Dragged the children out on their bikes earlier in the week so they could accompany me whilst I ran. We managed 4.24M which is good going for them. Actually getting everyone out of the house whilst ignoring the moaning was harder than the run was! Lovely friend of mine took both children away this morning to spend time with her children, so I set off on my last long run before The Big Day. Actually, it was only 1 hour, but all things are relative.

Thought I’d better practice all the lovely positive visualisations I’d been reading about. Oh, and the positive mantras, and the general P.M.A.*! Tried my best, presume it must have worked because I had a lovely run. Ignored the slight niggle in my shin, didn’t worry about taking it good and slow, tried my hardest to ignore the decomposing badger (ugh!!). Ran for almost exactly 1 hour, and when I came back inside, realised I’d enjoyed my run. Really enjoyed being out in the beautiful countryside I’m so lucky to live in. Enjoyed feeling my body working to power me along. Enjoyed hearing the birds and feeling the sun on my body. Just enjoyed my run, like I used to.

Feeling sickeningly positive now, so have send another e-mail to various friends and villagers asking if they’d like to sponsor me (sorry if you got that one!). Would LOVE to reach £1,000 – an amount I never dreamed I’d be able to raise.

Right – am going to go and do something slightly less uplifting now (hoovering) to try and bring me back down to earth. Happy Friday everyone!

* PMA = Positive Mental Attitude, dude!

Tapering Approaching … pass the Easter Eggs

So this is supposed to be week 1 of my taper. However, as I’ve done so little running I thought I’d be better off doing some more miles this week, then having a 2 week taper. Just the little inconvenience of the children being off school for the Easter holidays!

I said Taper, NOT Tapir!

Had a brainwave – its free swimming over the holidays, and the pool had a 3 hour ‘flumes’ session. Perfect – I could drop them at the pool, have a good long run and then collect them afterwards. Nothing could go wrong with that plan, could it?? Even got free parking, as all 3 machines were broken in the car park – a good omen!

All started well, ran for 50 minutes out along the (flat!) cycle route, tried my new gels, took it good & steady and practised my walk breaks. Then turned back (as I felt a bit far away from the pool!) planning on heading back to town and then running laps until the children had finished. Just 10 minutes later, I had a call from my daughter “We were cold and bored, so we got out and are waiting in the foyer”. Aargh!! I told her I’d be at least 40 minutes, and they could spend their locker money to buy a drink and a snack and to wait there for me!

High points on the way home were hearing a very noisy crashing sound, only to discover it was a heron landing in the next field by the river, and then seeing 2 deer just next to the path. they stopped and stared at me, and I stopped and stared at them!

Met up with children, got everyone home and settled, and headed out again for a few more miles. The cold rain started (it felt like sleet, but don’t think it was really), I was very tired, and then the battery died on my Garmin. Time to head for home! Think it was 13 miles in total, but felt more.

I had a lovely 8 mile run down in Cornwall on Easter Saturday. Down country lanes, through the woods and along another cycle path (flat again).

So now I really must taper – got to rest these legs and sort my Positive Mental Attitude out (yes, I have been reading US websites!) I’m sure Easter eggs count as carb loading, don’t they?

Training Going Well!

After the excitement of last week’s 10 mile run, I finally decided that I could do this darned marathon thing, my leg was strong enough, and I was mentally fit enough!

This week has started with my plan to run for 6 miles and a long run of 13 miles. I will hopefully fit in some aqua plodding, and maybe another short run as well, and/or some cycling. Unfortunately this week is looking being one of ‘those’ weeks.

I am typing this whilst waiting impatiently for the engineer to come and service our boiler. He could arrive any time between 8am – 1pm, and the last time I can aquaplod is 12 noon, as then they rope the pool into highly regimented lanes with speed limits. Unfortunately my aquaplod pace is slower even than the Slow lane, so its not really fair to the rest of the Chippenham lunchtime swimmers if I hold them up! Wednesday they don’t have any sessions I can get to, and Thursday is allocated for my ‘Long Run’. On Friday the first of my children is home as school has finished for Easter. Wonder if she’d like to come swimming whilst I aquaplod???

This week’s Long Run is planned to be 13 miles. Yes, I know its only half the distance of the marathon, but even so its a 3 mile jump up from last week. As long as the weather doesn’t stay this hot I think its achievable. Run – Walk is my new plan!

Yesterday I started of this week’s training with a plan to run (yes RUN – not run-walk!) for 6 miles. I figured I need to toughen my legs up over these shorter distances, and then I can work on my stamina for run-walking over the longer distances. I also realised I’d better try out my race day outfit, as I’m seriously running out of time! It was so cold first thing I actually had to wait until nearly 10am before I could push myself out of the door. There should be a Government regulation about minimum temperatures for wearing vest and shorts! I was freezing for the first mile and a half (seriously – goosebumps and everything!), and after that I was boiling! The weather is beautiful at the moment, but I really hope it breaks before 22nd April,,, sorry everyone!)

Anyway, apart from the heat, run went really well, and I ended up running for 7.21 miles. It felt much harder than last week’s 10 miles, so I think that proves the walk breaks are really going to help over the long distances. Pace wasn’t that much faster either.

So – still no sign of the Engineer. Will now update my Virgin Money Giving page, and I need to write another begging email asking for donations. I haven’t felt I could ask for donations whilst I was unsure if I’d make it to the start line. Shows how much more confident I’m feeling!

And now for a long run…

After Monday’s test run of FIVE MILES which didn’t leave me limping, I decided on a new strategy for my marathon training. Basically, its Do or Die. I need to really push hard, increase my mileage dramatically every week. If my shin (or any other part of me!) can’t take it, then I’d never finish the marathon and I’ll defer and do it in 2013 instead.

Bearing this in mind I set off in Thursday’s hint of sunshine aiming for 8 miles. I picked a route I’ve often used on my Half Marathon training as there’s a large section across farmland through the grounds of a Estate. As I’d thought, the first field was full of little lambs, huddling close to their Mums.

Lambs & Mum. Baaaaa!

The miles ticked by, after the first dew miles I decided I’d better practice a Run – Walk strategy, as if I do make it to the Start line I think that’s the only way I’ll make it to the Finish line. I ran for a mile, then walked for a minute, and continued that for the whole run. I made it round the fields, back onto the roads and the gentle incline back to the village.  As I approached the village, nearing the mile 8 mark, I decided I felt so good I’d add another little loop to my run, and aim to get to 10 miles.

Cue some more fields (no sheep this time though), steps getting slower but still running, and ran up my drive to see my watch saying I’d run 9.99 miles. Only a mad woman would then run up and down the drive until it changed to 10 miles, wouldn’t they? Well, I’m a mad woman then, because that’s what I did.

TEN MILES!! Took me 2 hours, but legs felt okay, just tired rather than broken. Shin felt okay, but I felt marvellous. I really think I can do this!

Not so new looking trainers any more!

 Got inside to see the Postman had brought the second issue of the London Marathon magazine. Flicked through it seeing information on the start, the route, Dos & Don’ts for the day, and I promptly burst into tears. Still not sure why – only a mad woman would cry over a magazine…. oh hang on I think we’ve covered that one!

Friday morning now, think I need to get out on the bike, cycle to my aqua plod session (just an hour this time, but aiming to keep it speedy!) and then cycle home in this glorious sunshine. Then I need to bake some Chocolate Brownies because 1. My daughter will be home tonight after a week away, and 2. because I’m worth it!